'Polar Vortex' hits the country

Posted at: 01/08/2014 6:52 PM
By: Jorge Torres, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It's been all over the news for a week and we can't seem to get away from it!

From life threatening wind chills in Minnesota to feet of snow in Massachusetts.

It's been simply referred to as the "Polar Vortex," but what exactly is it?

For the scientific explanation, we went to the National Weather Service to get the low-down on this bitterly cold polar air.

"Think of this swirling mass of cold dense air centered more or less about the pole and think of it becoming lopsided and shifting south," said Kerry Jones of the National Weather Service.

On this occasion, it impacted the most populated parts of the lower 48 which, along with social media, helped the name catch on and get the word out!

"I know it was trending on Twitter for a couple of days and it helps get people's attention," Jones said.

New Mexico has been in the deep freeze before. Who can forget February 2011? Why no "Polar Vortex" name for that?

Jones said that the wind was almost due north to south at the mid and upper levels of the atmosphere that were just bringing that cold air straight south, which is different than what the the eastern part of the country is experiencing.

This isn't a new phenomenon either. The last time a huge chunk of polar air slid into the US was in 1994.